Is the market being saturated with Android smartphones?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
After Google announced its plan to acquire Motorola, there was a lot of initial backlash. It centered on the fear that Google's plan for Android had suddenly shifted, and the search giant would be playing favorites with the house that launched the DROID line. (Into the focus of the masses, at least.) Google was quick to quiet the riots, confirming that nothing would be changing, and that the plan for Android was still intact. And soon after the announcement, some people started suggesting that Google begin focusing on Motorola exclusively, and begin releasing high-end phones much in the same way that Apple releases the iPhone. Basically, as usual, opinions on what Google should do run the entire gamut of ideas, but maybe some are right.
Actually, I think Google needs to get a handle on Android and its release into the world. There isn't anything wrong with choice, and it's great that that is one of the cornerstones of Android's success. But this is really starting to get out of hand. And I know that this may seem like a strange thing for me to be saying, but after seeing reactions to the launch of Samsung's Galaxy S II variants here in the States, I'm thinking I am not the only one who feels this way. But before I continue, let me point out that I don't think this is a deal-breaker in the slightest. Just, maybe, a bump in the road. In fact, there's no arguing that Google's current plan for Android is working quite well, as the platform's rise to fame and dominance has been like an unstoppable stream roller.
"Samsung released an old phone to the United States." "Samsung released the top-tier Android phone of the week." These are just a couple of the comments I saw around the Internet after the US launch of the Galaxy S II, and what makes them poignant is that they are true. Even as Samsung unveiled the "new" devices, people were already still talking about the Motorola DROID Bionic, or even the HTC Vigor. Basically, despite the fact that Samsung was indeed launching powerful smartphones, people were already talking about what is coming next. And with devices like the rumored Samsung Nexus Prime, why wouldn't they be?
And that's the problem in a nutshell. I feel like the public is starting to feel the effects of Android saturation, and they really are hoping that something is done about it. Obviously, dealing with products in the tech market means that there is always that possibility of new devices launching right around the corner. But for Android devices, it is absolutely expected. Here we are launching three new high-end devices, and we didn't stop talking about what's still coming. That isn't good, other than having great conversation.
So what should happen? That's the hard part. One possibility could be Google's direct intervention, and mellowing out the release schedules for some of these devices. Or, maybe spreading devices out over carriers, so there are more options per carrier over the course of a year. Or, another option could be straight from the manufacturers. If they release a handset, say to T-Mobile, and then release a newer device with better specs for the same carrier, they offer a hefty discount to those who bought the first phone. Realistically, I think the window could only be three months between devices, maybe four or five. But after six months the consumer should be able to live with their purchase, and a discount wouldn't be expected.
Will this ever happen? Probably not. After all, the more devices the manufacturers can launch, the more money they can make. Unfortunately, I think it's come to a point where a new Android phone, no matter how great the specs, is only interesting and drool worthy for a couple weeks at most. What do you think of Android's release schedule? Let me know in the comments below.